Whenever I eat out at Ihop (which isn’t often), I always order a belgian waffle. This isn’t true of any other breakfast place around town. Truth be told, however, I could order a belgian waffle anywhere in the U.S. or even the world, and it wouldn’t taste half as delicious as an authentic waffle from Belgium. I don’t know what their secret is, but their waffles are more filling and sweeter in taste. Maybe it’s all the extravagant toppings, but whatever it is, let Belgian waffles be a part of your experience.
Belgian waffle stands are as readily available as food trucks in NYC. They’re very cheap and make for a good mid-day snack or a full meal if you’re low on cash. The toppings they offer include every fruit you could ever hope for, melted Belgian chocolate, whipped topping, nuts, caramel, you name it they have it. If I ever make a promise to you, it’s that these waffles are worth breaking your diet for a day.
Brussels was the second stop on my International Business Tour back in 2009, and the city I was most excited to visit because I knew very little about it. Unfortunately, I only had 3 short days to walk the streets of this beautiful city, and I’m eager to visit again on my own. It is head to toe magnificent and all of the buildings are certainly the epitome of European architecture.
The group I traveled with took the train into the city from London and took a bus to our hotel. In transit, I had another episode of “this can’t be real” similar to my experience in London. Belgium was so foreign to me that on the bus ride to the hotel, I was gazing out the window at all the buildings we were passing. I was about as entranced as if you were to present a little kid with a lollypop.
Once we settled into our boutique hotel, which by then night had fallen, we took a stroll through Grand Place, and a couple girls and I ate at a hole-in-the-wall pizza place (such a typical American thing to do, right?) with red wine and tiramisu. It was a quaint kind of luxury I was not used to but a lifestyle I could become comfortable with very quickly.
The next day started with a hardy breakfast that included a buffet of waffles (of course), bacon, sausage, eggs, fresh fruit, and croissants. It was the most scrumptious meal I had eaten that whole trip. We began with another visit to the Grand Place, meandered through the market of knick knacks and hot chocolate, got lost on the streets admiring the artwork, and taking samples from every chocolate shop I ran into. Did I mention I love chocolate? The last half of the day included a visit to the Bank of Belgium, where I literally was falling asleep in the front row as the presentation went on. The person next to me had to keep nudging my arm, and I missed every word the employee said. It’s 3 years later, and I’m still sending my sincerest apologies for how disrespectful my behavior was.
On the last day, my new friend Jessica and I decided to take on the train system and venture out to the Atomium. When we got off the train, we had no idea where we were and used the iconic structure as our North Star. It was cold and snowy, and we had to venture though a colorfully, tacky carnival/putt putt golf area to get there. When we finally arrived, they were just about to end tours for the night, but they let us go in anyway. If you make it to Brussels, I highly encourage you to visit the Atomium. The escalators that take you to the top are in the connectors, and you can overlook Brussels through submarine style windows on the way up. It’s almost as if the city lights shoot up towards the sky to greet you. Each nodule is its own floor that features something different including the history of the landmark. Jessica and I were the only ones who, on a limb, trekked out to see the Atomium, and I’m so glad we did. It was and still is one of my most cherished learning moments of how to navigate a foreign country on my own.
Belgium holds a special place in my heart. I felt very welcome there, and the people are so friendly that you feel encouraged and reassured that the world is a good place.
“This City” Sundays will introduce you to a new city every week, showcase what I’ve learned and love about that city, and attempt to persuade you to visit on your travels.